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Jan. 2001

De Beers looks like it is going into the retail business. The company is expected to make an announcement in February that it will partner with key retailers in the diamond and jewelry market to sell its brand. There may also be De Beers-owned retailers, but De Beers probably won’t own or control the stores outright, because of the anti-trust issue (although they may be able to sell in other countries.) De Beers has spent a year researching the industry. They see the stores as a way to promote their own “brand.”

This has caused a lot of fear in the industry. Sightholders and retailers are naturally worried that De Beers will be competing against them.

But how will all this play with consumers? With De Beers announcing at least two different brand names — “De Beers” and “DTC” — the public may be confused. It’s as if Coca-Cola had two different names for the same product — one “Coke” and the other “Coca-Cola.”

The name “De Beers” is a relatively well-known name. The “DTC” name, however, is largely unknown, and they will have a difficult job educating the public to recognizing the name.

In addition: sightholder has been told to start a brand — and some have already started some. If all 150-plus sightholders start their own brands — plus there are new “brands” from the Canadians (the “polar bears”) and other mines (maybe an Australian kangaroo or Russian bear?)—we could go from no brands to too many. People may forget about the Four C’s, and just care about the diamond’s “label”— and this wouldn’t be good for consumers.

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